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A Blog from Dr. Frasier

Taxibrousse trips often warrant blog posts. Who can forget being driven by a man who plainly believes himself to be a demi-god? How else can one explain his certainty that the opposing lane of traffic will always be clear on blind curves and therefore at his disposal?

Toliar is a two day drive (for the sane) from Antananarivo. We were passing through this city on our way to Lavavolo, an MBP research site in the spiny forest. To get to our parched destination, I was treated to a new Malagasy travel experience for me – a ride on a ferry donated to Madagascar by the European Union. I know it came from the European Union as one of the ferry staff pointed out the plaque. It was also obvious because it lacked the charm and rust of the hand-forged ferries that shuttle people and cars across many of Madagascar’s rivers. What it lacked in charm it made up for in functionality as it navigated the coastal waters south to St. Augustin then Soalara, where we disembarked. Take a look.


Photos courtesy of Dr. Frasier


This is the mighty Fiavota. Although the smaller boat with the rectangular sail that is common to the area looks more appealing. At least from a distance, ask me again after I try hauling in a catch of fish from it.
Nirina backs the MBP truck onto the ferry with Dr. Louis close by. Although we were told to load the trucks by 8am (although it didn’t happen until 9:30) during high tide, we didn’t leave until 3:30pm, also during high tide. It only took about 15 minutes to load, so I’m still puzzled by the 6 hour delay.

A look back shows stacks of freight containers and all that constitutes the Toliar port.
Rounding the bend to gain access to the sheltered St. Augustin harbor.
After 2.5 hours, it’s time for us to disembark in the village of Soalara. From here we drove 30 minutes to Anakao and stayed the night before finally arriving in Lavavolo the next day after an additional 2.5 hours of driving sandy tracks.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to negotiate with some Soalara goats for a ride on their boat.


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